Peter Paul Rubens

Bruegel-Rubens masterpiece goes on the block to save historic English houses

"Mars and Venus" will pay for essential repairs

An important unpublished painting by Rubens and Jan Bruegel the Elder, “Mars and Venus”, is to be sold in order to raise money to preserve two important English houses, Southside House in the London suburb of Wimbledon and Helen’s in the Herefordshire village of Much Marcle, both connected with the writer of The Story of San Michele, Malcolm Munthe. The two houses, which are both delightfully atmospheric, are owned by the Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust and are open to the public. Essential repairs are now necessary. The trust has applied to the Charity Commissioners for authority to sell the picture, which was acquired by Hilda Pennington-Mellor in France in 1909. Permission for the sale is likely to be granted shortly. “Mars and Venus” has not yet been valued, but it is expected to fetch around £5 million when it comes onto the market.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'War and love to raise money for property'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 105 July 2000